Author Topic: The uBeam FAQ  (Read 301741 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #225 on: December 19, 2015, 05:54:30 pm »
http://labusinessjournal.com/news/2015/dec/18/maker-wireless-charger-losing-investment-power/
Quote
UBeam’s crowdfunding efforts have so far raised $2.6 million of its $4.7 million target, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That amount was raised from 95 investors, who each invested a minimum of $10,000. The crowdfunding effort began in July and is being facilitated by crowdfunding platform OurCrowd of Jerusalem.

So they found another 95 suckers to fleece >$10K out of.
Got to give them an A for effort.
The question is though why do they need it?
Didn't they just get another $10M option from the original investors?
http://fortune.com/2015/09/30/ubeam-wireless-charging-funding/
 

Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #226 on: December 19, 2015, 10:54:10 pm »
And how exactly can you piss away $30m and have nothing to show for it...?
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Offline coppice

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #227 on: December 19, 2015, 11:03:31 pm »
And how exactly can you piss away $30m and have nothing to show for it...?
I see you've never worked on a defence contract. :)
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #228 on: December 19, 2015, 11:28:04 pm »
And how exactly can you piss away $30m and have nothing to show for it...?
I see you've never worked on a defence contract. :)

True indeed.
I've worked on military projects that have pissed away >$10M and never saw the light of day. And that's chicken feed.

But in the case of uBeam, from what I have gathered, it seems they have set up their own class 100 cleanroom, their own transducer manufacturing facilities, all the latest high end manufacturing toys etc. Not to mention the high end staff for several years etc.
Wouldn't be too hard to spend that money if you bet big time by designing and setting up high volume custom manufacturing based on faith that it's all going to work as intended.
The 30 odd patent also would have cost a pretty penny, probably half a mil right there.
So they certainly won't have "nothing to show for it", they'd have considerable asset that could be sold off. or combined with the patents and know-how of whatever staff is left holding the bag, it would be worth something to a buyer for a niche application.
Odds are though it'll all be sold for pennies on the dollar when the merry-go-round eventually stops.

They are obviously starting the death spiral. All the signs are there:
a) Apparent loss of significant staff
b) Starting what sounds for all the world like a major R&D and production staff reboot
c) Going for the crowd funding after having raised $30M (and presumably spent with nothing publicly to show for it)
d) Both Meredith and one the key investors personally looking for and putting out potential media fires on twitter recently.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2015, 11:35:12 pm by EEVblog »
 

Offline coppice

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #229 on: December 19, 2015, 11:48:26 pm »
But in the case of uBeam, from what I have gathered, it seems they have set up their own class 100 cleanroom, their own transducer manufacturing facilities, all the latest high end manufacturing toys etc. Not to mention the high end staff for several years etc.
Where did you find that? Sounds like an interesting read. The key to success doing anything really new is to only solve one major problem. Setting up the production of piezo devices, rather than going to existing experts in the field, like Morgan, seems insane.
The 30 odd patent also would have cost a pretty penny, probably half a mil right there.
Not cheap, but spending on patents is exactly where you need to put your money when you are trying to start something you hope will become big.

 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #230 on: December 20, 2015, 12:22:23 am »
But in the case of uBeam, from what I have gathered, it seems they have set up their own class 100 cleanroom, their own transducer manufacturing facilities, all the latest high end manufacturing toys etc. Not to mention the high end staff for several years etc.
Where did you find that?

LinkedIn profiles.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeaguerra
Oops, class 10,000 sorry



They are doing their own $1M+ ASIC too:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/seantaffler
« Last Edit: December 20, 2015, 11:50:31 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline mikerj

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #231 on: December 20, 2015, 03:13:40 am »
Odds are though it'll all be sold for pennies on the dollar when the merry-go-round eventually stops.

Or the Merrideth-go-round in this case.

Why are people still investing significant sums of money into a technology that's not only unproven, but has negligible chance of success?  Is common sense now an endangered commodity, or is there some other angle to this?
 

Offline coppice

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #232 on: December 20, 2015, 03:47:58 am »
But in the case of uBeam, from what I have gathered, it seems they have set up their own class 100 cleanroom, their own transducer manufacturing facilities, all the latest high end manufacturing toys etc. Not to mention the high end staff for several years etc.
Where did you find that?

LinkedIn profiles.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeaguerra
Oops, class 10,000 sorry



They are doing their own $1M+ ASIC too:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/seantaffler
That doesn't really say they are making transducers, although the clean room hints at it. What startup put so many resources into the ability to make their own PCBs? Its as wacky as building an ASIC when they don't have mature demos built with off the shelf stuff, like FPGAs.
 

Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #233 on: December 20, 2015, 08:51:48 am »
Quote
That doesn't really say they are making transducers, although the clean room hints at it. What startup put so many resources into the ability to make their own PCBs? Its as wacky as building an ASIC when they don't have mature demos built with off the shelf stuff, like FPGAs.
This seems to me to sum up the level of cluelessness involved - doing this sort of thing in-house is just insanity, and can only distract from developing the core techology.
I'm sure there are plenty of companies with decades of experience in ultrasonics who could have produced prototypes.
I wonder if maybe that's what they tried first and when told that it wasn't doable, ignored that advice in their unfounded belief that they could do better.
Or maybe they were just paranoid about people stealing their "new ideas"
Some people just won't take advice.
I have no doubt whatsoever that when it all eventually implodes, Meredith will blame everyone but herself and refuse to acknowledge that the idea was just plain bad.

There are some people that just won't be told they're wrong.

 
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Offline LabSpokane

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #234 on: December 20, 2015, 10:43:29 am »
UBeam likely started making transducers after every commercial transducer manufacturer told them to piss off.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #235 on: December 20, 2015, 11:29:34 am »
That doesn't really say they are making transducers, although the clean room hints at it. What startup put so many resources into the ability to make their own PCBs? Its as wacky as building an ASIC when they don't have mature demos built with off the shelf stuff, like FPGAs.

Because that's what "big" companies with "big" funding and with "big" ideas are supposed to do, to, you know, make them look and sound "big".
Practical risk-mitigating development methodologies are tossed out the window.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #236 on: December 20, 2015, 11:38:00 am »
This seems to me to sum up the level of cluelessness involved - doing this sort of thing in-house is just insanity, and can only distract from developing the core techology.
I'm sure there are plenty of companies with decades of experience in ultrasonics who could have produced prototypes.
I wonder if maybe that's what they tried first and when told that it wasn't doable, ignored that advice in their unfounded belief that they could do better.

The odds of that are high.
Although the advice of the people you hire also plays a big part. What happens when you have almost unlimited deep pockets, and a likely easy to convince CEO with no practical experience or knowledge in the field who dreams nothing but big "I'm a technology innovator" dreams.
The engineers and scientists they hired would be champing at the bit to get all the cool gear they possibly can and will spin stories as to why the need it. It would have bee like shooting fish in a barrel. Manufacturing people you hire will gladly will tell you in-house is the way to go. The scientists you hire will see the blank cheque and start salivating.
This is when you need adult supervision.

They (the investors) also would have wanted a quick return, so would have pushed hard for an impressive development schedule. So that means hire everyone from every disciple and go to work on parallel development. Risk, why worry about that when you have media darling CEO and a hacked together prototype that shows it clearly "works". it's just a matter of money to bring it to scale  ::)

Quote
I have no doubt whatsoever that when it all eventually implodes, Meredith will blame everyone but herself and refuse to acknowledge that the idea was just plain bad.

No doubt.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2015, 11:48:18 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #237 on: December 20, 2015, 11:39:43 am »
UBeam likely started making transducers after every commercial transducer manufacturer told them to piss off.

They probably happily took their money and gave them to best they could.
But then uBeam found that the leading edge wasn't good enough, so hey, just develop your own, because everyone knows ultrasonic power transmission "works"
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #238 on: December 20, 2015, 12:04:37 pm »
UBeam likely started making transducers after every commercial transducer manufacturer told them to piss off.

They probably happily took their money and gave them to best they could.
But then uBeam found that the leading edge wasn't good enough, so hey, just develop your own, because everyone knows ultrasonic power transmission "works"

I work in the power industry, so I get to talk to "free energy" types more than I would like. Unless your business is selling prototypes, there isn't real money to be had with onesy twosey stuff. Those jobs are looked as bets one takes that hopefully work out commercially.  We generally take very few of those types of bets unless the business climate is really bleak.  uBeam type of projects really are a huge distraction and unless the energy balances looked good on paper, the phone conversation was more along the lines of, "no Meredith ... uh no Meredith. Sorry, it doesn't work that way....no...no...no. Gotta run. Bye. (Click)"

 

Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #239 on: December 20, 2015, 01:27:26 pm »
It would have bee like shooting fish in a barrel. Manufacturing people you hire will gladly will tell you in-house is the way to go. The scientists you hire will see the blank cheque and start salivating.
Sorta reminds me of the Gold Rush - the people who made the real money are those that sold the equipment, ran the bars & whorehouses....

Those new jobs at ubeam could be tempting for any techies at a loose end for a month or two right now, just as long as they get NDAs preventing ubeam ever revealing they worked for them to avoid future embarrassment. Hell it might be fun just to go to an interview to see how bad/delusional  things really are
 

 
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Offline coppice

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #240 on: December 20, 2015, 02:27:22 pm »
That doesn't really say they are making transducers, although the clean room hints at it. What startup put so many resources into the ability to make their own PCBs? Its as wacky as building an ASIC when they don't have mature demos built with off the shelf stuff, like FPGAs.

Because that's what "big" companies with "big" funding and with "big" ideas are supposed to do, to, you know, make them look and sound "big".
Practical risk-mitigating development methodologies are tossed out the window.
Isn't the current fashion still for "big" companies to outsource everything?
 

Offline coppice

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #241 on: December 20, 2015, 02:33:19 pm »
There are some people that just won't be told they're wrong.
I have experience of watching a non-technical businessman who thought they'd had a brilliant idea cling to that through thick and thin. Its quite strange to watch as they completely misidentify what is important in developing and protecting that idea. If you watch carefully, however, it can tell you some interesting things about how their minds work.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #242 on: January 27, 2016, 07:22:22 pm »
Are some people suffering as a result of increasing mass exposure of the public to ultrasound in air?
http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/472/2185/20150624
 

Offline helius

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #243 on: January 28, 2016, 03:48:33 am »
"Existing guidelines are based on an insufficient evidence base, most of which was collected over 40 years ago by researchers who themselves considered it insufficient to finalize guidelines, but which produced preliminary guidelines. This warning of inadequacy was lost as nations and organizations issued ‘new’ guidelines based on these early guidelines, and through such repetition generated a false impression of consensus. The evidence base is so slim that few reports have progressed far along the sequence from anecdote to case study, to formal scientific controlled trials and epidemiological studies."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woozle_effect
 

Offline tombola

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #244 on: February 05, 2016, 04:47:55 am »
November 2015, Techcrunch:
"Still, most people can’t look at this info and conclude if uBeam is plausible. So I spoke with two experts in the space that have reviewed these details to get their thoughts.
Dr. Matt O’Donnell, PhD is one of the world’s leading experts in ultrasonics, and is the Professor and Dean Emeritus of Engineering at the University of Washington. He writes:<snip>...their system does not violate the laws of physics.”"

January 2016, uBeam Press Release:
"We’re very excited to announce today that we’ve added two distinguished experts in acoustics to head uBeam’s engineering. <snip> Matthew O’Donnell, Ph.D., currently Dean Emeritus of Engineering at the University of Washington... has joined uBeam as Chairman of our Technical Advisory Board."

 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #245 on: February 05, 2016, 06:52:18 am »
November 2015, Techcrunch:
"Still, most people can’t look at this info and conclude if uBeam is plausible. So I spoke with two experts in the space that have reviewed these details to get their thoughts.
Dr. Matt O’Donnell, PhD is one of the world’s leading experts in ultrasonics, and is the Professor and Dean Emeritus of Engineering at the University of Washington. He writes:<snip>...their system does not violate the laws of physics.”"

January 2016, uBeam Press Release:
"We’re very excited to announce today that we’ve added two distinguished experts in acoustics to head uBeam’s engineering. <snip> Matthew O’Donnell, Ph.D., currently Dean Emeritus of Engineering at the University of Washington... has joined uBeam as Chairman of our Technical Advisory Board."

That is a complete coincidence.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #246 on: February 05, 2016, 09:14:34 am »
January 2016, uBeam Press Release:
"We’re very excited to announce today that we’ve added two distinguished experts in acoustics to head uBeam’s engineering. <snip> Matthew O’Donnell, Ph.D., currently Dean Emeritus of Engineering at the University of Washington... has joined uBeam as Chairman of our Technical Advisory Board."

Interesting development.
"Chairman of our Technical Advisory Board" is juts what is sounds like though, an advisory role. i.e. "Spend the money here, because that's more viable" etc.
Doesn't change the real world practicality of the technology though.
Maybe the whole thing is going tits-up, and this is the investors last ditch effort to find out what's really going on and see if it's still viable? He'll happily take the pay cheque to advise I'm sure.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 09:27:43 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline jazon

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #247 on: February 05, 2016, 11:11:24 am »
UBeam Hires Two Ultrasound Veterans (LA Business Journal article)

http://labusinessjournal.com/news/2016/feb/04/ubeam-hires-two-ultrasound-veterans/

Sections highlighted below:

Quote
Former ultrasonic medical imaging consultant Paul Chandler has been hired as the company’s vice president of acoustics. Matthew O’Donnell, dean emeritus of engineering at the University of Washington, will be chairman of the company’s technical advisor board.

Quote
A number of ultrasonic experts, physicists and electrical engineers told the Business Journal in November that the proposed uBeam system would be inefficient, costly and infeasible.

At the time Perry declined to be interview by the Business Journal, but instead opted to release technical details to tech industry blog TechCrunch. One of the sources for that article, was Matt O’Donnell, now chairman of uBeam’s technical advisor board. In the article, O’Donnell said:

“There is multiplicative risk in getting all of this together to work, but it may be possible. If uBeam can deliver that amount of power to a phone with reasonable efficiency, reception, and electronic management, then their system does not violate the laws of physics.”

Quote
IEEE Spectrum reported that O’Donnell said he was contacted by uBeam prior to the TechCrunch article and asked if he would provide statements for reporters. When the Business Journal reached out to O’Donnell, he declined to be interviewed, but emailed back a statement:

“I am not expert in the details of this system. I was quoted (in the TechCrunch article) because there was a question about the basic ultrasound physics. I am a biomedical guy and know virtually nothing about the details of the wireless power space. I have no idea whether uBeam’s system is practical or not.”
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #248 on: February 05, 2016, 11:38:40 am »
The more I think about this, the more I come to conclusion that this is a panic move.
Why only bring in these experts now after 3+ years of development?
If the product worked as claimed why would they need these experts?
They certainly wouldn't need them for publicity, they's just demo the tech and people would go wild and throw money at them.
They can't need them for technical direction at this late stage of development.

I can only think of 3 scenarios:

1) The tech "kinda-sorta" works, but efficiency is crap (as everyone expects). They need them to tweak it and/or try some new tricks (futile of course, but hey, let's run with that)

2) Things are starting to go to shit, the investors are getting frustrated, so they finally bought in some adult technical supervision.

3) The wheels have completely fallen off the billy cart and the investors have bought in some brains to figure out if there is any salvageable technology that can be spun off (I think there is likely some things of niche worth there)
 

Online Howardlong

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #249 on: February 05, 2016, 11:39:33 am »
UBeam Hires Two Ultrasound Veterans (LA Business Journal article)

http://labusinessjournal.com/news/2016/feb/04/ubeam-hires-two-ultrasound-veterans/

Quote
IEEE Spectrum reported that O’Donnell said he was contacted by uBeam prior to the TechCrunch article and asked if he would provide statements for reporters. When the Business Journal reached out to O’Donnell, he declined to be interviewed, but emailed back a statement:

“I am not expert in the details of this system. I was quoted (in the TechCrunch article) because there was a question about the basic ultrasound physics. I am a biomedical guy and know virtually nothing about the details of the wireless power space. I have no idea whether uBeam’s system is practical or not.”

"But seeing as uBeam have $23.2m to piss away, and being the open-minded type"

Quote
“I was impressed at the technology they have developed and also their overall approach toward solving a difficult, but not impossible, technical challenge. I am also very impressed with the team that Meredith has put together. Given this, I was excited to get involved and help them address the technical challenges moving forward.”

"The offer of a 6 figure sweetener has nothing to do with my sudden change of heart, where do I sign?" :-J  that's a tongue in cheek emoticon for the lawyers.
 


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